Photos by MAC Cosmetics

Step into any department store and almost instantly you are besieged by makeup artists from dozens of counters vying for your attention, all claiming to be the best brand on the market. The already overwhelmed customer may be unsure about which products will work for them, but the savvy consumer soon learns that once you go MAC you never go back!

The brand was originally established in 1984 by Frank Toskan, a makeup artist and photographer, and Frank Angelo a hair salon owner in Toronto, Canada. Their taste for bold colours and thirst for theatrical expression led them to create their own makeup line. They wished to show that true beauty could be found in rich colour schemes which could be worn by all ages, all races and all sexes. This philosophy stays just as true today and is the principle of the MAC cosmetics brand.

The humble beginnings of this now global brand are filled with stories of Toskan’s family helping to box eye shadow around the kitchen table. The idea behind MAC (Makeup Artists Cosmetics) was that it would be a line created to be available for ‘the trade’, i.e only to makeup artists. Then in 1986 supermodel Linda Evangelista praised MAC’s ‘Spice’ Lip Pencil creating an instant buzz on the international fashion scene. To this day MAC remains a strong presence behind the scenes at fashion shows all over the world creating complimentary looks when the models strut down the catwalk. 

This initiated a bevy of celebrity endorsements for the company’s cutting edge products. During an interview with the Huffington Post, Toskan describes the idea for the brand as one born out of necessity. “There weren’t a lot of products that gave a saturated colour that showed up vibrantly in photographs so I started experimenting. Our first product was a non- matte lipstick – the first lipstick ever that looked on the lips like it did in the tube, no shine and no distortion. Soon I was designing brushes, lipsticks and powders and selling them to makeup artists like Debi Mazar, who was working with Madonna and others on the cutting edge of fashion,hair and makeup. They not only used the products but also gave me candid feedback and great ideas. It’s not often that you can test your products with industry leaders – it was a proactive way of ensuring their quality.”

This break in the industry led to a growth spurt and within 15 years MAC had opened 300 stores worldwide. MAC is also a conscious company with a big heart and in 1994 the MAC Aids Fund was established. The charity has raised over US$270 million for women, men and children living with and affected by HIV/AIDS. Eventually the company was sold to Estee Lauder Inc where it has increased its brand strength to become a global phenomenon.

Today MAC is still the name on every celebrities lips; both figuratively and literally. The company has cemented its reputation as an “eye catching, eternally young” brand and over the years they have turned their focus to supplementing their namesake. Knowing how influential pop culture is, the company instinctively extended their hand to join forces between their cosmetic geniuses and famous faces. Collaborations with the most talked about celebrities resulted in impressively avante garde collections season after season. For years MAC has selected iconic figures such as Ru Paul, Debbie Harry, Elton John, Missy Elliot, Boy George and Lady Gaga to name a few. There has been no shortage of ‘super cool’ celebrity campaigns and the latest icon to join forces with MAC is currently one of the world’s biggest superstars and fashion forward style vixens… our own Rihanna.

Earlier this year, Living Barbados was invited to the MAC Fall Trends Presentation in Santo Domingo. Writers and beauty bloggers from the region were treated to a preview on the soon to be released trends for the upcoming season by senior MAC makeup artist Gisel Calvillo. It’s an exciting time as all those privileged to attend get a sneak peek at the upcoming makeup trends, their inspiration and its interpretation on the runways at elite fashion shows. A part of this presentation is a step by step demonstration on how to replicate the trend, turning a ‘made for stage’ look into glamorous everyday wear.                 

“Intensity” is the theme for this year’s autumn/winter collection. Their ‘Reb-elle’ line focuses on the eyes, piling on layers of black and charcoal in a variety of textures. Heavily shadowed eyelids are defined by black eyeliner and sexily smeared to ‘bleed.’ For contrast, metallic eyeliner in used at the corners of the eyes to reflect light and dimension. On runway shows at Roberto Cavalli and Donna Karan this gothic/glam style gives the ‘smoldering eye’ a resolute comeback. Other trends in this season’s collection follow a similar subversive nature. The ‘Perspecx-tive’ line uses glossy eyes and cheeks to give a modernized sleek skin texture. ‘Spiritual-ize’ rely on dove grey and pastel palettes and striking eyebrows; the effect is dually cold and soft, portraying an intimately ethereal intonation. This edgy fashion would normally have the most confident woman questioning how to pull this look off, but senior makeup artist Gisel Calvilo demonstrated how easy these are to apply. All of the products for this season are designed to make the transition from runway to real life effortless. According to MAC, playing it safe would be ’so last season.’

The new RiRi (Heart) MAC collection is a dynamic mix of colours, contours and classic beauty.  A testament to her endless creative resources, MAC has agreed to continue their promotion for not just one season but four consecutive makeup lines. For both the company and Rihanna this is a first. “We always say that MAC likes to go on a date but doesn’t want to go into a relationship,” says John Demsey group President of the Estee Lauder Co. Inc. “This relationship with Rihanna is a long-term one that involves the development of four distinct colour initiatives.” The first products were launched in June this year and the whole line sold out in less than three hours. The second line of products made their debut in August and the third edition was released in October. Considering how quickly the two earlier lines were snapped up, customers in Barbados placed their orders for this third collection early, and once again, it was a smashing sell out. The fourth will be a special line arriving in early December for the festive season. The colours of the collection are all thoughtfully crafted with a lipstick to suit every personality or mood; ‘RiRi Boy’ matte vivid purple lipstick is perfect for bold vixens, ‘Heaux’ matte berry is more suited to demure ladies. Rihanna of course put her own twist on the classic statement lipstick ‘RiRi Woo’ a relentlessly cool, matte red.

Rihanna continues to wave our flag all over the world; her rose gold, shimmery bronzer, aptly named ‘Barbados Girl’, suits any complexion and is made to create the appearance of a glow from the inside out. How inspired girls in Barbados must feel knowing a powerhouse cosmetics company like MAC has an amazing collection with their national celebrity as the beauty inspiration. We are proud of this ‘Barbados girl’ who like MAC came from humble beginnings but has taken the world by storm!

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